Home » resourceful gardening » Good and Ready: Collecting Sweet William Seeds

Good and Ready: Collecting Sweet William Seeds

Sweet Williams definitely stole my heart as favorite flower for June and July. As they start to swoon and the zinnias look to zip into the No. 1 spot, my attention has turned to collecting Sweet William seeds to make sure I have plenty going forward.

Yet another charming characteristic of Sweet Williams is that you don’t have to guess  when they’re ready for you to take their seeds. Unlike a lot of flowers and herbs that change from “all systems go” to “Hey! Where’d you go?” in a flash, Sweet Williams usually give you a window of several days to a week to collect their seeds.

Here’s a beautiful, healthy Sweet William:

growing sweet william from seed 3

Here’s one who’s definitely past his prime but not ready for seed collecting:

sweet william 3

And here’s one who’s “open for business” to collect seeds:

sweet william 3

The buds literally open up when they’re ready and, assuming you don’t have torrential winds, the seeds will stay in the little “cups” for a while until you’re ready to harvest them.

I will either cut the spent flower off (also known as “deadheading”) or if there’s just one spent blossom on an otherwise healthy stalk of flowers, I’ll just tip the stem into a paper bag, shake the Sweet William and the seeds will fall out.

sweet william

It’s just that easy, Internet Friends. The seeds look tiny, flat, black kernels:

growing sweet william from seed 3

Sweet Williams are by no means the only flowers who “open” up when they’re ready for seed collection, but they’re the only ones in my little patch of dirt that do it this way. Let me know if you have any flower or herb seeds that send you similar signals when they’re ready for collection.

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4 thoughts on “Good and Ready: Collecting Sweet William Seeds

  1. Hi! Thanks for this informative post. I have two tiny pots of Sweet William kept on my porch wall. They obviously bloomed and many flowers had dried out. So, today I just trimmed the dead flowers and since they were tiny flowers I tried to rub clean the dead flowers between my fingers, to get to the seeds. I did manage to shake plenty of pale brown tiniest of tiny seed like (flaky?) things from them but they don’t look anything like the ones shown in the picture. Could it be a different variety? Also, I did not notice any opening of dead buds either. They were drying out on my plant for quite sometime now and it looked like a messy dried shrub.

    • Hi A! So glad you found it helpful. It’s entirely possible that it’s a different variety; the only thing that’s got me a little dubious is that even different varieties of, say, tomatoes or sunflowers, have seeds that look very similar. Yet and still, different types of lettuce seeds – green leaf, red leaf, Romaine, spotted, etc. – can look very different. I would suggest trying to do a quick sprout test of the brown flaky things. It’s a pretty easy process; there’s a good explanation here: http://growagoodlife.com/simple-seed-germination-test/

      If memory serves, my Sweet William seeds sprouted within a week or so in seed starting mix (soilless soil), so you should know within a few days using a paper towel or coffee filter test.

      Let me know how it goes!

      • Hello again…I went out to recheck and found a couple of dead buds still on my plant. So this time when I shook them, I got to the black seeds. They also had the micro brown ones inside the cup which is probably something else. Hoping to get results as I have simply put the black seeds in another pot. Thanks a lot for your help. The picture in this post helped.

    • I’m so glad – please keep me posted on how your seedlings are doing, and I appreciate the reminder you gave me to start some Sweet Williams myself!

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